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approach to trauma

A new paradigm approach

We are pioneers in a groundbreaking contemporary therapeutic approach called the 'new paradigm'. Coined by leading US neuro-psychoanalyst Allan Schore, the term 'new paradigm' refers to a brand new way of understanding and treating mental health at depth. Far from being just a new theory or technique, the new paradigm heralds an evolutionary leap in our understanding of what it means to be human. For the first time in the history of mental health treatment, it unifies areas of enquiry that till now have been disparate. Neuroscience, self psychology, trauma theory, attachment theory, interpersonal neurobiology, somatic psychotherapy, relational theory, human development theory, regulation theory, polyvagal theory and more, are all brought together in a cohesive interdisciplinary model, that seeks to identify, treat and resolve issues at the deepest level of human experience. Like all paradigm shifts, the new paradigm in mental health represents a complete departure from the current paradigm that underpins most clinical psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy and counselling. As such, over the coming years it is anticipated the new paradigm will change the face of mental health worldwide.

A humanistic approach

Fundamental to the new paradigm is the humanistic understanding that people experiencing mental suffering are not 'sick', or 'mentally ill' in the way the medical paradigm infers. Rather, that mental health issues are instead a direct expression of that person's experience in life - the understandable result of the mental, physical, emotional, relational, environmental and epigenetic experiences that have informed that person's development. This can be most easily described as a shift from asking "what's wrong with you?" to "what happened to you?". Core to this, is treating clients not as 'aberrant people' having 'abnormal' experiences, but as humans having human experiences. From this humanistic stance, all aspects of a client's experience are embraced in the therapy, with the aim to provide you with new experiences of integration, wholeness, self regulation and self awareness. We support your capacity to not just be 'more functional' or 'within the normal range' of human experience, but to experience the full breadth & depth of your humanity and to manifest your full human potential.

A relational approach

Perhaps the most significant hallmark of the new paradigm is a shift from what is known as 'one person' psychology, to a 'two person' psychological model. This shift represents an abandonment of the archaic premise that therapy occurs within the client, whilst the clinician acts simply as a 'blank screen' onto which the client projects. Instead, the new paradigm acknowledges that therapy is above all else a relational activity, in which therapist and client are co-creating one another's experience in a form of interaction unique to the therapeutic alliance. And that given humans are fundamentally relational beings, that if truly harnessed the therapeutic relationship has profound scope for transformational healing. Numerous recent studies have confirmed that the single most effective aspect of any mental health treatment is the quality of the therapist/client relationship. This relational approach is considered especially vital when working with trauma.. In order to safely, thoroughly and meaningfully address trauma,  a therapeutic relationship of masterful attunement, empathy, responsiveness and safety is now understood to be key. This insight forms the central tenet of our work - we commit to creating the unique relational conditions that are foundational to your healing and recovery.

An implicit approach

A further hallmark of the new paradigm is a shift from working at 'explicit' levels of human experience, to working at the level of 'the implicit'. Where mainstream mental health approaches work with obvious or overt aspects of a client's experience, we tune into what lies between the words, before the thought, or beneath the behaviour. Through paying close attention to your emotional, physical, mental and relational states, we address the deepest realm of your human experience. We support you to connect with those powerful yet unconscious aspects of yourself - the hidden, buried and silent things that underpin how you feel, think and act. By attuning to and addressing what lies beneath your awareness, we aim to identify and resolve your issues at their root cause.

An embodied approach

Most current approaches to mental health continue to use a dualistic understanding of mind and body, that is out of step with a contemporary understanding. Our cutting edge approach is based on the neuroscience-proven fact that the mind and body are inextricably linked and interdependent. In the new paradigm, addressing 'mental health' requires us to also address what is occurring at the bodily level. This represents a shift from focusing on cognition (thinking), to a psychobiological understanding of human experience (thinking/feeling/sensing/experiencing/responding/reacting etc). Our approach uses a 'complex dynamic systems' model of understanding - how the mind and body interface at an organismic level. This body inclusive approach is paramount in working with trauma. As trained contemporary somatic psychotherapists, we are experts in using a wide range of somatic tools, techniques and touch to include and integrate the body in all parts of the treatment - supporting recovery not just in your mind, but in your body, where trauma lives.

Some clinical cornerstones of our approach

  • Polyvagal theory (Stephen Porges)

  • Interpersonal neurobiology (Dan Siegel)

  • Right brain/new paradigm psychotherapy (Allan Schore)

  • Sensorimotor psychotherapy (Pat Ogden  & Janina Fisher)

  • Somatic Experiencing (Peter Levine)

  • Trauma theory informed therapy (Bessel van der Kolk)

  • Attachment theory (John Bowlby et al, Dan Hughes, Karl Heinz Brisch)

  • Phenomenology & existential therapy

  • Self psychology (Heinz Kohut)

  • Intersubjective psychoanalysis (USA)

  • PACT couples therapy (Stan Tatkin)

  • Psycho-bio-socio-spiritual model (Gabor Mate)

  • Somatic psychotherapy & biodynamic massage (Gerda Boyeson)

  • Contemporary somatic psychotherapy (Jeff Barlow)

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